Vizzing with Velocity


The last two contributions I’ve shared for Makeover Monday have involved me vizzing on the clock. One of the guidelines on the website notes that you could consider time-boxing yourself to one hour. I don’t have the stats on this but I have spent over an hour in approximately 95% of all cases, and well over on some occasions. I’d say on average I spend about 3 hours, depending on the week and the appraoch I’ve decided to take. This allows me time for reading up on the subject, getting familiar with the data and exploring different visualisations and design options. However I like the notion that you don’t necessarily need to spend longer if you don’t have a lot of time.

Week 32: India’s Broken Toilets

For Week 32 we decided to have a Makeover Monday session in our office over lunch. So we set the clock running for an hour and vizzed away like mad, with an odd pause to discuss elements of the data-set.


The data related to the standard of toilet usability in India. I found that having the clock ticking had a huge impact on how I worked. It really focused my mind and there wasn’t as much time for planning and deliberating over different design choices. It gave the exercise an exam like feel. There also wasn’t really sufficient time for a thorough critical assessment of the original visualisation or to fully digest the background information. I read the article, scanning through some sections. The original visualisation is below. I think the use of colour worked well and the legend gives clear information to the user. I found the labelling cluttered. If this were an interactive visualiation you could remove the labels but show the specifics when you hover over a state.


I wanted to create a dashboard which gave an overview of the situation at a state level and also took a look at how the states fared comparing overall rates with the rates for girls. The finished product is below and you can view it on Tableau Public here. That evening I wanted to validate a few aspects before sharing as I wasn’t happy with one of the LOD calculations. I ended up spending another 40 minutes or so working on it, mainly focused on fixing the calculations. I also removed a line chart that I had originally included as it was too cluttered and I added my sources.



Week 37: Stolen Bikes in the UK

This was a great week as we were joined by Makeover Monday organisers Andy Kriebel and Eva Murray at the Tableau User Group in Dublin for a live Makeover Monday session. Andy and Eva gave an explanation of how the project works to those who weren’t familiar with it, and then the clock was started. This felt even more like an exam as the room was set out like a classroom. Granted, you could talk to those around you so it wasn’t quite as intense! I had chatted to Andy at a Women in Data event in Tableau’s offices that morning and he asked me if I’d be happy to present my viz afterwards. I had already agreed to that so this added to the feeling of pressure to create something semi-decent in the time alotted!

This time I actually barely glanced at the original visualisation. I simply wanted to explore the data-set, get an understanding of the fields and look to see what trends I could identify in the time available.  I looked at the trend over time, seasonality and summarised the outcomes to get an understanding of what happened in the majority of cases. I had used the icon in a previous visualisation when we were provided a data-set relating to the Tour de France so I decided to use this. With more time I would have revisited the map, as the density of the data points is so heavy it’s hard to get any clear insights. Although the filter on the map allows you to focus in on an area of interest and filter the other views. It was fun getting up to present my work once the time was up!


I spent five minutes adding the sources before sharing it on Twitter that evening. My finished visualisation is below and the interactive version is on Tableau Public here. It was a nice surprise that my viz was included in Andy’s list of favourites in his recap blog that week too.


Final thoughts

Notice anything about the two dashboards? The layouts for week 32 and week 37 are rather similar! It seems I turn into Betty Bar Chart (thanks to Emily Kund for this expression) when under pressure, with a map thrown in for good measure. From a design perspective, it’s almost as if I go on auto-pilot, opting for a layout that I’ve used before. In both cases I split the dashboard down the middle, dividing it in two with the ‘T’ shape separating the views. I had a similar layout in week 27. When you have a deadline, you really have to commit to a design choice or layout and move on. I prefer having more time to analyse and consider different options, but I think there is value in restricting yourself sometimes too. I’ll be trying to do something different from a layout perspective over the next few weeks when I contribute, but haven’t decided yet whether I’ll be setting the clock!

That’s all from me for now, thanks for reading.

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